File Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Former prime minister Brian Mulroney pauses while speaking following the announcement of the $60 million Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and Mulroney Hall at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. . Mulroney says the federal government may face a “rough negotiation” when it comes to NAFTA, but he believes Canada will nonetheless emerge with strong ties to the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump, Sanders stoked fear, protectionist sentiments in U.S. for years: Mulroney

OTTAWA — Canada will prevail in getting a new free trade agreement with the United States despite the anti-globalization bent in the United States which has been stoked by the left and right-wing voices there for years, former prime minister Brian Mulroney said Friday.

The architect of the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement was a main attraction at the Canada2020 conference in Ottawa.

Mulroney told the conference attendees both U.S. President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders have fuelled the idea that global trade is tilted against American interests, giving rise to fear, anger and protectionist sentiments which Canada must fight.

“When fear and anger fuel much of the public debate, history teaches us that protectionist impulses can easily become a convenient handmaiden,” he said.

“Much of what we are witnessing today in the U.S. reflects similar emotions of fear and anger stimulated in large part by the sense that the government is dysfunctional or detached from public concerns or that the global system of trade which is so important to all of our lives is tilted against American interests,” Mulroney said. ”How could they not think that way with Bernie Sanders on the left and President Trump on the right telling them that for a number of years?”

Trump campaigned on renegotiating or tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement and last month served notice to Congress he intended to re-open negotiations. The new discussions between the U.S., Canada and Mexico are set to begin in August, to update the 23-year-old deal.

Trump has been all over the map on what he wants to see with the deal, from tearing it up entirely to just “tweaking” it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has spent a significant amount of time and political capital lobbying Americans ahead of the expected negotiations, on the benefits of NAFTA and the damage that could be wrought by cutting trade between Canada and the U.S.

Mulroney said Friday he has no official advisory role in this game, although his long relationship with Trump and other members of the administration have made him a valuable commodity. In February he was dispatched to a fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., where he serenaded the president and sung Trudeau’s praises.

He said today he has not spoken with Trump himself recently, but spoke to senior members of the Trump White House this week.

He described a conversation he had recently with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, in which Kushner said how impressed the White House was by the show of unity in Canada. The conversation followed a letter written by former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose throwing her support fully behind the Liberal government’s trade negotiations.

“This is in conflict, a variance, let me put it that way, with what you see in Washington with the Congress seriously divided on everything, including this,” said Mulroney in a scrum with reporters following the speech.

Mulroney said he understands the anxieties created by the fast-paced changes in our world but he said it is unfair and unwise to make trade the scapegoat.

“The enemy is not trade,” he said. “The enemy is technology.”

He said despite the rhetoric coming from the United States, and knowing full well the Americans will be tough negotiators, he remains confident a new deal can and will be reached.

“Canada is privileged to have the United States as a neighbour and friend and the United States should their lucky stars every morning they have Canada on the northern border. This is the most successful and peaceful bilateral relationship in history and one that must be cherished.”

Just Posted

BREAKING: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ways to prevent a kitchen fire

Fire prevention officer releases safety tips

The cost of flushing sanitary wipes is brought to Red Deer city council

More public education is needed about what not to flush down toilets

WATCH: Rebels play floor hockey with Annie L. Gaetz students

The Rebels may be on a losing streak but they were definitely… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month